Cannabis is Quickly Becoming Colorado’s Largest Industry

A new study released by the Marijuana Policy Group shows that Colorado marijuana sales contributed $2.39 billion to the state’s economy in 2015–more taxable revenue than Colorado’s arts and sports venues combined ($777.3 million). To put those numbers in perspective, Colorado produced 112.0 metric tons of flower and 132 metric tons of flower-equivalent marijuana (concentrates, edibles).

Total 2015 numbers for the Colorado cannabis industry were $996 million in marijuana sales and $121 million in new taxes. The cannabis industry is the fastest-growing business sector in the state and has created 8,005 direct and ancillary full-time jobs in 2015.

According to the report, “each dollar spent on retail marijuana generates $2.40 in state output. This compares favorably with general retail trade, which yields $1.88 per dollar. The more traditional (and sometimes subsidized) mining sector generates $1.79 per dollar. General manufacturing generates $1.94 per dollar, and casinos generate just $1.73 per dollar of spending.

Other industries have lower output yields because their inputs are sourced from outside of the state, or because the profits are remitted to corporate owners that exist primarily outside of the state as well.”

However, the green rush won’t last forever. With more states legalizing medical and recreational marijuana, Colorado marijuana sales will reach a saturation point. The MPG report states:

“Legal marijuana demand is projected to grow by 11.3 percent per year through 2020. This growth is driven by a demand shift away from the black market and by cannabis-specific visitor demand. By 2020, the regulated market in Colorado will become saturated. Total sales value will peak near $1.52 billion dollars, and state demand will be 215.7 metric tons of flower equivalents by 2020.”